Entry Regulation USA / ESTA

Requirements for entering the United States

Please find out through the relevant missions abroad, whether your documents are sufficient for entry. Each passenger himself is responsible to have the necessary visa documents at hand.

Detailed travel and safety advice for US Travel is available from the Foreign Office.

Travelers from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver program

Travelers with citizenship in one of the following countries can enter the USA simply by applying for an ESTA.

This is possible because these countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom


Since 2009, every passenger (including children) who is not in possession of an American passport or a valid visa, must apply for an electronic travel authorization / ESTA online in order to be allowed entry into the United States. You can submit a maximum of 50 requests per payment. The people in a group do not have to travel together. There is a charge of US $ 14 per application that must be paid with a Credit Card Please also have your passport ready when you apply for the Travel Authorization.

The application can be made at any time prior to your arrival, however, not later than 72 hours before departure. If they are not revoked, travel authorizations are valid up to two years from the date of issue of the approval, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

You can apply for the ESTA travel authorization here.

Electronic Passport (ePass)

Besides having a valid ESTA, travelers from one of the Visa Waiver Program countries need an electronic Passport (ePass) to enter the USA. From the 01.04.2016 on, it won’t be possible to enter the US with a regular Passport. The ePass has all your biometric data, like fingerprints, digital Photograph and your personal date, stored on a chip. The requirement for entering the USA is that every passport issued after 26.10.2006 must have a chip.

The data stored on this chip can vary depending on the issuing country and date.

Depending on the Visa Waiver Program participating country (see above), your ePass has to be valid for at least 6 month. The ePass for German travelers has to be valid until the end of the travel (arrival in country of origin).

Please inform yourself about the validity requirements of your country by visiting the website of the US-Embassy.

Exceptions for Passports without a chip:

The following passports without chip can still be used for your travels and for applying for an ESTA:

  • A: your passport was issued before October, 26 2006 and has a machine readable zone. OR
  • B: Your passport was issued between October, 26 2005 and October, 25 2006 and has a digital photograph

If your passport does not have a chip and was issued after October, 26 2006, you cannot use an ESTA but have to apply for a Visa for your stay!

Special Conditions where US Visa is needed

  • There are new regulations for travelers with dual citizenship, with one part in Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan. These countries are excluded from the Visa Waiver program and therefore travelers with dual citizenship in one of these countries have to apply for a Visa to enter to the USA.
  • Also all travelers who have been to Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan after 01.03.2011 have to apply for a Visa.(Excluded from this regulation are: full-time employees of the German Government/Armed Forces members.)Approved ESTA applications are no longer valid for the before mentioned travelers. For further information, please go to http://www.usembassy.gov/
  • If you citizenship is in a country not participating in the Visa Waiver Program, you have to apply for a Visa. Please visit the Website of the US embassy and find out if you need to apply for a Visa. There are different Visa categories: Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa. There are further distinctions for Nonimmigrant Visa, e.g. Tourism, Vacation, Pleasure Visitor; Business Visitor; Temporary Employment, etc. For further information please visit the website of the US embassy and of the ‘Department of Homeland Security”.


By law of the "Department of Homeland Security" all airlines are obliged to register personal data of their passengers and to convey them to the US authorities (Advance Passenger Information System, short APIS). We ask you to fill out the APIS entry form for every traveler and to give it to the ground personnel before departure. Your information will be kept confidential and is not used for commercial purposes. APIS Form (PDF)

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